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2006 Cadillac SRX

The Original Standard of the World Crossover

     The last SUV to occupy this space was lauded for not compromising, for retaining its body-on-frame roots, and for its V8 strength. But that SUV also felt more at home at a rodeo vs. Rodeo (pronounced Roe-day-oh, they tell me) Drive. However you say it, the Cadillac crossover is a compromise. A little bit of this, a little bit of that and whammo, a CTS off its diet.
     The SRX carries its weight quite respectably, I must add before the Wreath and Crest faithful start shooting laser beams through their monitors. The sheet metal is just as creased and chiseled as that Art & Science original, the CTS. The SRX, still in its original form after three years of service, has carried a family resemblance from the beginning and has not gone under the knife twice like its SUV stable mate, the Escalade (though many around the AT office agree that it is time). Visually the SRX is not outdated but some softer lines blended with those sharp creases would be a welcome freshener (i.e. 2007 Escalade). On the upside, all those sharp angles detract from just how big the SRX really is and does visually slim things down.

     Beneath the chiseled sheet metal is the much acclaimed Sigma platform. This is the same platform that underpins the athletic CTS and STS sedans. Unfortunately for us, athletic is not the word to describe the driving experience of the SRX—at least this V6 version. Sure, the ride is buttoned down and predictable, but gone is the thrill ride you get from the sedans if you push them hard enough. With the higher roofline pushing the center of gravity a bit north, the SRX naturally should lose a bit of the agility of it siblings, but this crossover is downright sedate. Brake pedal feel follows typical GM fashion with the soft and squishy setting turned to high. On the other hand throttle response is adequate and tip-in is linear. Our model was equipped with the lesser V6, but with 260 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque on tap from the 3.6-liter engine, finding the power to get around that Buick Rendezvous in the right lane was never an ordeal. The transmission was pretty well sorted at determining which of the five gears to be in at any given time. Honestly, leaving the lever in the S slot garnered the most respect from all staffers. During our time with the SRX we got to toss it around during one particularly nasty winter storm and with confidence we could say that the all-wheel drive system was up to the challenge. Granted it was not rally car strong, nor did it find grip like an EVO, but we never had to question whether or not we would be able to return home from our jaunt to the steakhouse. That, or it might have been the six full-size guys we packed into the black leather couches.

     Speaking of the leather couches, they do accommodate the aforementioned full-size men quite well. Aside from the 2 rearmost seats that is. I believe straws were drawn to decide who made the climb rearward. When not in use the rear seat can be neatly stowed away to switch people accommodations to cargo capacity. The neatest part is the stowing process is power actuated, but be prepared to stand and hold the button for awhile as the little motors folding and tipping and tilting and sliding the seat are slow and to release pressure on the button reverses direction once depressed again. As for the dash design, it is edgy and driver oriented, but its uniqueness disappeared once it made the migration from CTS to SRX untouched. An update is due with further exploitation of soft touch materials and could we please get a splash of color? Sure the wood grain breaks up the blackness a bit, but the interior seems downright drab compared to that of the STS, the new Escalade, and certainly compared to other luxury marquees—Lexus’ new IS and GS sedans, for instance.
     Overall we continue to be impressed with the $43,590 SRX. This SUV interpretation of the Sigma platform has captured a good chunk of what the chassis offers the cars it underpins. Yet, there’s still room for improvement in feeling, and certainly in interior accommodations. It’s not that we don’t like what Cadillac has here, it’s just a bit disappointing since we all know how capable and agile the Sigma platform really is. Bring on round 2.

The Good:
Capable V6, just the right size, distinctive style.
The Bad:
Interior materials fall short of class standard, needs a freshening inside and out.
The Verdict:
New competition puts the SRX in the back of the pack.
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